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In a Goa beyond visitors’ eyes[continued]

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Reality education:

India too, discovered the other face of unbridled tourism. For Bernie it was the larger issue of development without thinking things through to the last man. At Kushmandu, dam building drowned individuals; here tourism was running amok. Three years after that fateful day however, she is not disheartened despite police lethargy that let that Briton flee India.

"Awareness has grown. People are better informed. Volunteers have joined hands and though paedophilia surely exists, it is nowhere as rampant or blatant as it was, " she says. If so Jan Ugahi has played not a small role. They have conducted innumerable workshops for children, students, parents, teachers and citizens on the ways of the paedophiles, and the ways to combat them. Greg constantly works on expanding his network of informants. Among them are many taxi drivers, hotel workers and foreign tourists themselves. A Swiss lady who holidays regularly in Goa, drops by whenever she spots a suspicious fellow guest. There are several like her. Jan Ugahi has made Goa a harder place for paedophiles.

Jan Ugahi today runs its centre from the fifth floor of a building in Margao. One part is set aside as a short-stay home for women in distress. And there is a steady stream of them in search of this service and Bernie's comforting words. Funds have come from the government as well as well-wishers overseas, like Terre Des Hommes, for instance. About a 100 children drop by everyday to play, sing and learn. They run adult education programmes and coaching classes for poor children. In all they interact with over 3000 people --young and old-- offering them employment ideas, education, counsel and just plain listening time. Gemma, Greg and Bernie have been joined by five more trustees: Nagesh Daivajna, Neeta Sedekar, Mohan Bhatt, Subhash Jorge and Anita Naik. Their calendar of activities is crammed with programmes for the poor.

Bloom time:

Expectedly, the Greg and Bernie formula for making people realise their potential is working. Heroes are popping up regularly.

Rekha Addekar now 33, had been cowering for years in a dark room at her father's house. Two abusive marriages and divorces had pushed her there. She had no children, had studied just up to 6th standard and had given herself up as worth nothing. She thought herself a burden to be fed by her kindly father. Bernie and Greg found her seven years ago.

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